August 20, 2019 – Carotid Ultrasound


Anchor lead: When ultrasound is done on your neck, what exactly are they looking for? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Ultrasound is the modality of choice when it comes to evaluating potential blockages of the carotid arteries, those that travel through the neck and into the head. Such blockages increase the risk of stroke. Caitlin Hicks, a vascular surgeon at Johns Hopkins, describes what the test is about.

Hicks: The test basically looks at both of the patient’s carotid arteries to see if the flow through the carotid artery, from the base of the neck all the way up to the skull of the head, is normal, looks for narrowings  in the internal carotid specifically and it compares the rate of blood flow in the internal carotid artery compared to the common carotid artery, which is at the base of the neck. We usually look for a ratio of 4 between those before we offer treatment for someone who has no symptoms. If a patient comes to us reporting symptoms, which can include a stroke, transient ischemic attack or vision changes, we may offer it sooner.  :30

Hicks notes that there are three potential procedures to manage blockages, and says a personalized approach helps determine which is best for an individual. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.